Alfa Romeo 166 3-litre V6
The TotallyMotor Verdict
Welcome back to our TotallyMotor Used Car Reviews. Our classified scout has been on the case again, and he’s the kind of guy that likes to hunt down bargain, bigger-fun motors with perhaps a little more character (and bravado!) than your more 'sensible' brand new cars, and for a whole lot less cash. That guy is me, Dan, the TotallyMotor editor.
I've had my nose in the online classifieds, scouring for ads of a more interesting nature, so that you don't have to. So if budgets are tight and you're looking to save a few pounds, or just fancy something a little different on the driveway, then this feature is for you.
This week we’re back with Veloces of London; an Alfa Romeo specialist with some 20 years experience. Owner Paul tipped me off to his new stock and said I should come down and take another look. After meeting some sweet Alfas and more last time, I had no hesitation in heading down to his New Barnet showroom.
The first thing you notice when you walk into their premises is a whole lot of Alfa Romeos. They usually have around 70 cars in stock and turnover around 40 cars per month; a good sign that they’re working hard to find the kind of cars that their customers want.
How about this rarely seen exec saloon, Alfa Romeo 166 V6 Super, priced at a hatchback-busting £2,990?
Out of all the cars I was due to meet during our recent TotallyMotor Used Car Review shoot-day down at Veloces; it was this big stern slice of wedge-shaped saloon that excited me the most.
You just don’t see these cars on the road. The Alfa 166 3-litre V6 Super.
‘Super’ because it’s the top of the range model with all the Momo leather, toys and luxury, and super-serious because of the potent 220bhp, 3-litre V6 lurking under the lengthy bonnet. It just looked so big and brutish in the Veloces classified ad that I couldn’t wait to meet it.
We’re into the ‘executive’ class of cars here so expect an expensive spec from the factory, a big and beefy body and a heavy-haul-capable engine. And in the metal the full-size Alfa is impressive.
The 166 was made between 1998 and 2007 and this 1999-model is one of the pre-facelift cars in the original ‘droopy headlight-style’. From 2003-onwards the car received a pretty radical styling overhaul that changed its face considerably. And for me it’s this car, the more nostalgic-looking 166, that really works it. It looks regal, classy, and expensive – which it would’ve been when new – probably in the region of £30k. Now Veloces are selling this 100,000-mile, bright-red motorway cruiser for tidily hatchback money - just £2,990.
Walking up to this 166 filled me with a sense of occasion, just like a nice big car should. There’s a powerful presence to this Alfa-red 166; smug in its own style and quietly confident in its 220bhp, V6-power. And that cocksure attitude was infectious with this driver.
I found myself smirking slyly like an over-bonus’d City Boy as the great long lines of Alfa’s sweeping wedge shape cast me back to the late 1980s, when cars were unashamedly lavish and automotive-confidence was bordering on the brash. Big car, big engine; it’s the big deal!
With smirk on face and keys in hand I stood back to take it all in and immediately started imaging what it would be like to waft along on the 3-litre V6’s comfy coattails. Built to munch motorways at 150mph, I guess this is how a battleship captain feels when he comes across some smaller, easy prey on a dark night. With superior size and strength comes a certain arrogance. Or maybe I was getting carried away!
While the other Veloces Alfas I’d driven – the 146 and 156 models - weighed up considerably smaller that the 166 and had a lightness of character about them; the 166 felt extremely substantial from the moment I swung open the driver’s door.
The interior feels huge, as well it should, and that Super trim-level leaves almost every surface softly padded with quilted Momo Italian leather. Imagine you’re nestled down in your favourite leather armchair and you can picture the easy-going comfort here; with elbow, leg and head room all around. But don’t fall asleep; there’s a growling V6 to tame!
This is the moment I had been waiting for – some 3-litre-fun with that big V6. This is the ‘same’ V6 as found in the 156 V6, but where that engine displaces 2.5-litres, this one’s gone super-size to 3000cc. A twist of the ignition key releases a deep, Autodelta aftermarket exhaust-enhanced throb that resonates through every inch of the expansive cabin.
Locating first gear in the 6-speed manual gearbox and I gently roll out the weighted clutch pedal without any extra throttle application; just using the rolling inertia of the big-bore engine to gently sway the car forward. And this is always my little test with big engine’d cars – get them underway at minimal speed and then prod the accelerator hard and see how quickly it reacts. With a 3000cc on tap I’d be expecting an instant surge from nearly zero-rpm.
Here we go. Just a little more than just a whiff of throttle and the Super 166 gets going hard; the brutish V6 digging deep. This is what torque is all about, and as the revs rise, so quickly does the speedo needle, all to the aurally addictive soundtrack that’s pure performance V6.
Deceptively speedy speeds come quickly in the V6 166, so if you scare easy you might want to stick to the sowing circle!
The power to waft along at your leisure is all yours in this 166 and this is what this sub-£3k-king-of-the-road is all about. She’s never going to be particularly cheap to run fuel-wise with that seamless and seemingly unending acceleration likely to become an addictive treat. But this Veloces car comes freshly serviced with the all-important cambelt replacement and a new MOT, so those 18-inch multi-spoke aftermarket alloys are indeed ready to roll.
She’s a bit of a beast alright, but if that’s what you’re looking for then look no further – this is the alpha Alfa Romeo.
For more details on this car and other Veloces used cars and Alfa Romeos, see their website or call the guys.
Paul, Martin and Hiren on 0208 275 0630
By Daniel Anslow
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